American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

Top five questions plastic surgeons want you to ask them

top five questions plastic surgeons want you to ask them

Visiting a plastic surgeon can suddenly feel overwhelming and intimidating. Nerves mean many people have a million thoughts running through their heads before the appointment, only to draw a blank when they are sitting in the office and the doctor asks if they have any questions.

Others can feel embarrassed or shy about asking questions. Is this appropriate? Is the doctor going to laugh at me? Is this a dumb question?

Stop second-guessing yourself. Your plastic surgeon wants you to ask them questions. An open dialogue and transparent communication are crucial to getting the best results. These are the top five questions board-certified plastic surgeons want you to ask.

1. How realistic are my expectations?

Setting expectations for surgery is vital. Physicians want you to be involved in the process.

"One of the best questions patients can ask is how realistic are my expectations about what the surgery can and cannot accomplish with regard to achieving my aesthetic goal," said ASPS Member Surgeon Josef Hadeed, MD, FACS.

Plastic surgeons aren't mind readers and can't get inside your head. That's why talking about your aesthetic goals, what you expect, what you don't want and what is achievable are the best ways for you and your doctor to get on the same page.

"List your expectations for your outcome and ask, 'Do you think my expectations are achievable?'" said ASPS Member Surgeon Kelly Killeen, MD.

Open communication with your plastic surgeon will better prepare you for each step of your procedure so you can know what to anticipate from your outcome.

"I am trying to create an atmosphere of transparency, authenticity and openness," said ASPS Member Surgeon Roy Kim, MD. "I feel strongly that the patient needs to fully understand – as much as a consumer can – what any procedure can and cannot do."

2. How will this procedure age with time?

Dr. Killeen also recommended asking your surgeon how the procedure results will age.

"These procedures and devices don't last a lifetime, and it's important you know as a patient what that looks like for future procedures and costs down the road," said Dr. Killeen.

If you are considering breast augmentation, ask how long the implants will last and when you might need replacements or additional surgical procedures. Are you considering buccal fat removal? It may give you the look you want today, but how will you look in 10 to 15 years when natural fat loss impacts the contours of your face?

3. What kind of maintenance or monitoring does this procedure require?

Along those same lines, Dr. Killeen suggested that patients ask about any necessary follow-up procedures or best practices for taking care of medical devices, such as breast implants, that are placed in the body as part of the surgery.

"What kind of maintenance or monitoring does this procedure require?" said Dr. Killeen, noting that this is a particularly crucial question for people looking into any procedure involving an implant or other surgical device.

4. What kind of support system do I need while recovering?

You can't leave the operating room and continue life as usual, depending on the procedure. Your body needs time to heal. Proper recovery is essential to getting the best results.

"I think asking in general about what kind of support system I need is important because I think people underestimate how much support they are going to need after surgery," said ASPS Member Surgeon Nneamaka Nwubah, MD.

Sometimes, asking about recovery time and how long you should be off your feet is not enough. There are nuances of surgery that most people don't think about, such as compression garments, drains and massages.

"There is a lot of aftercare involved, and everyone has different protocols," said Dr. Nwubah.

Understand what recovery involves and what support systems or help you'll need to cope with recovery and protect yourself from complications.

5. What are the risks?

One of the questions Dr. Kim recommended patients ask is about the procedure's risks. All surgical – and even nonsurgical – procedures come with some risks. It is essential to stay informed and ask your surgeon about the potential risks associated with the procedure and how to identify issues such as infection.

It is also important for patients to know what to do in case problems arise after their procedure. Should any problems occur after surgery, it's critical that patients have a plan for contacting their surgeon and getting the necessary follow-up care.

The only embarrassing question is the one you don't ask

Dr. Kim recommended that people take notes during their visit or bring a friend or family member with them to the consultation because two sets of ears are better than one. If you feel overwhelmed by the process, take some time to write out a list of questions and concerns before your appointment. Take your list with you so you won't forget what you wanted to ask when the surgeon says, "Do you have any questions?".

Are you worried lip filler will change how kissing feels for you or your partner? Ask! Will your sexual partner know if you've had a breast augmentation? Ask! What medications or drugs can interact with anesthesia? Ask!

The only embarrassing question is the one you don't ask your doctor. Social media platforms get filled with videos and threads of people asking random strangers whether "this" is normal. Or, what happens when "this" starts happening? Often misinformation can be given on these platforms. These are questions you need to ask your doctor.

Patients who ask questions and communicate with their physician have a stronger doctor-patient relationship and are better equipped to navigate pre- and post-surgery. Personalized care, tailored results, safety and overall satisfaction hinge on good communication.

To find a qualified plastic surgeon for any cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, consult a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. All ASPS members are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, have completed an accredited plastic surgery training program, practice in accredited facilities and follow strict standards of safety and ethics. Find an ASPS member in your area.


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